Andalusite – The Unknown Star

Andalusite – The Unknown Star Article Comments

Andalusite is a beautiful semi-precious gemstone with a diverse and changeable personality. It is often used in art objects and jewelry. Andalusite was first discovered in Andalucia, Southern Spain from which it gets its name.

There are some good reasons for its artistic popularity. Andalusite is known for its pleochroism. Pleochroic minerals reflect different colors resulting from the absorption of different wavelengths of light traveling through the crystal from different directions. Mother Nature produces andalusite in brown, green, red, yellow, greenish-brown and brownish-green. Other gemstones that share pleochroic characteristic include carletonite, elbaite, iolite, kunzite, tanzanite and zoisite.

Asterism is another light effect that occurs in some gemstones. Some andalusites benefit from this phenomenon. The Greek word aster means star. When some crystal gemstones are formed, minute needle-like mineral deposits form a star or cross shape in the gemstone. This variety of andalusite is called chiastolite and contains the dark mineral strips of carbon or clay, which form an X or cross. These andalusite gemstones are sometimes used in the creation of inspirational items and jewelry. Check out tigereyejewels.com to see a magnificent multi-gemstone Rosary featuring andalusite. Star Sapphires, star rubies and star rose quartz are all the result of asterism.

Another gemstone effect that is similar to asterism is called cat’s eyes. It is caused by the same inclusion of minute mineral crystals imbedded in gemstones and reflecting light. However, with the cat’s eye affect the imbedded mineral shimmers from top to bottom. Andalusite is one of the most common cat’s eye stones. The cat’s eye effect is also known as the chatayancy, which comes from the French word for cat (chat – pronounced, shot).

Relating cats to gemstones is an ancient trend that we still enjoy today. Tiger eye gemstone has been popular since ancient times and just as andalusite has its particular beauty expressed in terms of cats. You can see the two gemstones elegantly combined at tigereyejewels.com.

How to Find Silver Coins in Circulation

How to Find Silver Coins in Circulation

By Contributor

1943 Walking Liberty HalfIt is possible to find silver US coins in circulation. You rarely find them in your change anymore, but they are out there and you can get them at face value. Here’s how to do it.

Silver Kennedy halves found in 2008US quarters and dimes were made of 90% silver up until 1964. Since then, they have been made of the copper-nickel sandwich we see every day. A common silver dime is worth about $1 and a quarter is worth about $2 in melt value today according to coinflation.com. So it would be worthwhile to find them. Half dollars were also 90% silver up until 1964. Those are worth about $5 each. What many people don’t realize is that halves continued to be made of 40% silver from 1965 through 1970, and those are worth about $2 each also. All very interesting, but how do we find them?

Silver coins found in 7 boxes of dimes (17,500)The key is you have to search through a lot of coins to find the silver coins. That means that unless you access a lot of coins at work for some reason, you need to get them from a bank. No problem, just go in and ask for a few rolls of coins and search through them. A roll of halves is $10, quarters are also $10, and dimes are $5.

Silver coins can be foundYour best bets are the dimes and halves. There are a lot of dimes and quarters in circulation. A dime is small enough that you may not notice a silver one, so some slip though everyday commerce, and that’s why you can find them. Silver quarters are scarcer because they are bigger and more easily noticed. So there are not as many to find. Half dollars basically don’t circulate, but they are still made and are sitting in the banks. Since people don’t pull them out of everyday change, you can find them in bulk lots from the bank. I recommend you try some of each and see what you think. You may hear this hobby referred to as coin roll hunting by people who practice it.

50 Rolls of dimesHere are some practical tips for searching for silver coins using this method. Get rolls from a bank you have an account at. If you start asking for a lot of rolls, some banks will want to charge you a fee if you don’t have an account. The coins are delivered to the banks in boxes. You can order boxes from a teller if you want to search a lot of coins. A box of halves costs $500, a box of quarters is also $500, and a box of dimes costs $250.

If your bank has a free coin counter, that is the easiest way to return the coins after searching. If you can unroll the end and put the coins back in after searching, that is good too. If not, sometimes the bank will give you free paper rolls. It is recommended to dump the coins back at a different branch than you pick up from, just to keep the tellers happy. I brought them some chocolates over the Holidays, and they have always treated me nicely.

Proof Kennedy Half found in a bank rollYou can get some coin collecting books and try to fill them up with every date in the series. This is a lot of fun to do with your kids. You can sell the silver coins to coin dealers, but you’ll get a better price on Craigslist or Ebay.

All the silver coins pictured in this article were found recently using this method. It’s really a thrill to pick a nice shiny silver coin out of a roll. Finding silver in circulation is a form of treasure hunting that many thought was long gone.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Tip

Silver S mint coins are still made each year for Proof sets. You can occasionally find proof coins as well, they are stamped on polished dies as seen above. The picture doesn’t do it justice. They are beautiful coins. Nickels dated 1942-1945 are 35% silver also, the nickel was needed for the war effort in World War 2.

Warning

Wash your hands after searching for silver coins or any coins, they can be quite dirty.

https://www.apmex.com/education/numismatics/what-nickels-are-silver

Diamond basic attributes – the 4Cs

Diamond basic attributes – the 4Cs

4C represents Color, Clarity, Cutting and Carat. The 4Cs are the shared common attributes used by different grading institutes, to determine the quality and value of each diamond. Therefore, it is crucial to know the 4Cs before buying a diamond.

1) Carat

Carat is the weighting unit of a diamond, as below:
1 carat = 0.2 grams = 0.007 oz.

Bigger diamonds are rarer, as such, the value per carat will also be higher. For example, the value of a 1 carat diamond would be much higher than the total of two 0.5 carat diamonds.

The weight of a diamond affects its size, although the same weight may lead to different sizes, the following table shows the approximate size to weight ratio:

2) Clarity

Diamond with no magnificationDiamond at 10x magnification

Clarity refers to the inclusion and blemishes of a diamond; the level of clarity is determined by the number, size, place, whether it is obvious and the general effect of those inclusions and blemishes to the appearance of a diamond. Since diamonds are formed naturally, the formation process would usually include some other substances which lead to so called crystals, feathers inside a diamond. Better clarity gives a higher value of a diamond.

The GIA Clarity Scale contains 11 grades. In determining a clarity grade, the GIA system considers the size, nature, position, color or relief, and quantity of clarity characteristics visible under 10× magnification.

 

Flawless (FL) – No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification

Internally Flawless (IF) – No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification

Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) – Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification

Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) – Inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification

Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) – Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification

Included (I1, I2, and I3) – Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance

 

Since the diamond with “Included” grading includes quite obvious inclusion, we do not recommend and also do not offer diamonds with Grade I1 , I2 & I3 , except customers request us to provide.

3) Color

It refers to the level of colorless of a diamond. The rating is from D to Z. For D color, the best color level, representing colorless and continues with increasing presence of color to the letter Z, or light yellow or brown, as shown below:

D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
COLORLESS NEAR COLORLESS FAINT YELLOW VERY LIGHT YELLOW LIGHT YELLOW

 

Many of these color distinctions are so subtle as to be invisible to the untrained eye. But these slight differences make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.

4) Cutting

Color and clarity are born naturally with a diamond; however, on the other hand, Cutting is determined by the craftsmanship the diamond receives, which is an important factor to lead the diamond to sparkling perfection. The cutting factor involves complex determination, as a value factor, though, it refers to a diamond’s proportions, symmetry and polish.

Too Shallow Ideal Cut Too Deep

The proportions of a diamond refer to the relationships between table size, crown angle and pavilion depth. A wide range of proportion combinations are possible, and these ultimately affect the stone’s interaction with light.

GIA diamond graded cutting into 5 categories, from Excellent to Poor.

 

http://www.sydiamond.com/diamond_knowledge_tips_e.php

Diamond Clarity

Diamond Clarity

Buying Tips

Flawless
I3-I2
I1
SI2
SI1
VS2
VS1
VVS2
VVS1
IF
FL
Flawless
FL: No visible blemishes, < 1% of diamonds.
Inclusions are not visible under 10X, rarest clarity grade.

 

Diamond Clarity Grade Chart

FL & IF

FL, IF Graded Diamond

Flawless, Internally Flawless

Under 10x magnification, inclusions are not visible, rarest clarity grade.

  • FL: No visible blemishes, <1% of diamonds
  • IF: Very slight blemishes, <3% of diamonds
VVS1, VVS2

VVS Graded Diamond

Very, Very Slightly Included

Characteristics miniscule and difficult to see under 10x magnification, even to a trained eye.

  • VVS1: Few miniscule inclusions
  • VVS2: Slightly more miniscule inclusions
VS1, VS2

VS Graded Diamond

Very Slightly Included

Minor inclusions ranging from difficult to somewhat easy to see at 10x magnification.

  • VS1: Difficult to see minor inclusions
  • VS2: Somewhat easier to see minor inclusions
SI1, SI2

SI Graded Diamond

Slightly Included

Inclusions noticeable at 10x. Best value. SI2 inclusions may be detectable to a discerning unaided eye.

  • SI1: Inclusions occasionally visible to the keen eye without magnification
  • SI2: Inclusions typically visible from the pavilion, and often seen from the top, without magnification
I1

I1 Graded Diamond

Included

Diamonds may have more obvious inclusions at 10X and may be visible to the eye. Blue Nile offers a limited selection of jewelry with I1 clarity diamonds..

  • I1: Loose diamonds of this grade not offered by Blue Nile
I2, I3

>I2, I3 Graded Diamond

Clarity grades not carried by Blue Nile.

Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification, usually visible to the unaided eye.

More Expert Tips

  • Select an “eye-clean” diamond – one that has no imperfections visible to the unaided-eye through the crown. An excellent value, diamonds of this clarity are much less expensive than flawless (FL) or internally flawless (IF) diamonds, which are extremely rare and command higher prices.
  • If you’re considering a diamond with an SI clarity grade, call to speak to a diamond and jewelry consultant who will review the diamond to ensure the imperfections are not visible to the unaided eye.

https://www.bluenile.com/education/diamonds/clarity?gclid=CIvn1bDdp9YCFQktaQodo5gBuQ&click_id=494646443

20 Things You Didn’t Know About… Crystals

20 Things You Didn’t Know About… Crystals

The ones inside comets forged by the Sun, the ones buried under Manhattan, and the “crystal” ones that aren’t crystal at all

crystal
iStockphoto

 It’s all about the rhythm: Crystals are repeating, three-dimensional arrangements of atoms, ions, or molecules.

Almost any solid material can crystallize—even DNA. Chemists from New York University, Purdue University, and the Argonne National Laboratory recently created DNA crystals large enough to see with the naked eye. The work could have applications in nanoelectronics and drug development.

One thing that is not a crystal: leaded “crystal” glass, like the vases that so many newlyweds dread. (Glass consists of atoms or molecules all in a jumble, not in the well-patterned order that defines a crystal.)

 The oldest known pieces of our planet’s surface are 4.4-billion-year-old zircon crystals from the Jack Hills of western Australia.

5  The center of the earth was once thought to be a single, 1,500-mile-wide iron crystal. Seismic studies now show that the inner core is not a single solid but perhaps an aggregate of smaller crystals.

 Tiny silicate crystals, which need high temperatures to form, have been found inside icy comets from the solar system’s distant, chilly edges. Powerful flares from the sun may have provided the necessary heat.

7  In Chihuahua, 
Mexico, a limestone cavern 1,000 feet below the surface contains the largest crystals in the world: glittering gypsum formations up to 6 feet in diameter and 36 feet long, weighing as much as 55 tons. You may be sitting in a gypsum cave right now: It is a primary component of drywall.

 Are the streets of New York paved with gold? No, but the bedrock schist beneath them is studded with opal, beryl, chrysoberyl, garnet, and three kinds of tourmaline.

10  In 1885 a garnet weighing nearly 10 pounds was discovered beneath 35th Street near Broadway, close to today’s Macy’s store. According to urban lore, it was unearthed either during subway construction or by a laborer digging a sewer.

11 Cheaper by the pound: The so-called Subway Garnet was sold within a day, reportedly for $100—just $2,300 in today’s dollars.

12  The unit of measure for gemstones had humble beginnings. “Carat” comes from the Greek keration, or “carob bean,” which was used as a standard for weighing small quantities. It is equivalent to 200 milligrams, or about 0.007 ounce.

13  When Richard Burton bought Elizabeth Taylor the heart-shaped Taj-Mahal diamond, he is said to have bragged, “It has so many carats, it’s almost a turnip.”

14 A “fancy intense pink” diamond recently set a world record when it was purchased at auction for $46 million by a London jeweler.

15  The Cullinan diamond is the largest known gem diamond—or, actually, was. It weighed 3,106 carats, or nearly a pound and a half, when it was discovered in South Africa in 1905, but it has since been cut into more than 100 stones.

16  The Cullinan stones, all flawless, are now part of the British Regalia. The largest, a 530-carat behemoth, is set in one of the British royal scepters.

17  For the rest of us, there is crystallized sodium chloride, otherwise known as salt. We are literally awash in it: If the water were evaporated from the world’s oceans, we’d be left with 4.5 million cubic miles of salt, equivalent to a cube measuring 165 miles on each side.

18  Another crystal for commoners: sugar. Each American eats an average of more than 130 pounds of it per year.

19  As if sugar’s ties to obesity and tooth decay weren’t enough, new research out of Imperial College London suggests that it contributes to high blood pressure, too.

20 Snow is near-pure crystallized water, but when it collects on the ground it acts as a reservoir for atmospheric pollutants such as mercury and soot. So you probably shouldn’t eat the white snow either.

http://discovermagazine.com/2011/may/05-things-you-didnt-know-about-crystals

Don’t Get Fixated On Spot Price When Buying Silver Coins

Don’t Get Fixated On Spot Price When Buying Silver Coins

Silver investors tend to check the current spot price before making a purchase of silver coins. That’s a logical starting point, as the cost for physical metal is usually – but not always – related to spot.

Don’t expect former premiums to remain in place when spot plunges. Why does this happen? Lower prices means fewer sellers, so dealers have to raise their bids in relation to spot to purchase new supplies.

I would be very thrilled to have a pre-1965 silver dime for every time I’ve heard someone mindlessly blather about how they expected to obtain silver at around spot right after prices took a substantial plunge. Since spot (a paper price) can be and is manipulated by traders, it’s not a rock-solid indicator of what the metal is going to cost in the real world. Think of spot as theory and retail prices as reality. In precious metals and life in general, reality rules and theory drools.

90% silver coinsSometimes demand for the real thing increases faster than spot prices. That means some short-term hikes in premiums. We’re not talking about a massive surge in buying, but a moderate bump in retail demand. Since there are no great hoards of physical product waiting to be dumped into the hands of the general public, these moves take place for a week or two every few years.

Web sites and chat rooms are full of people who say they will buy silver coins once the price drops a few dollars or more. Those who make such statements usually assume they will be able to obtain the metal at something near spot, but recent developments prove once again that reality stomps on theory when dealing with physical product.

Bags ($1,000 face value, or 715 troy ounces) of pre-1965 dimes, quarters and half dollars sold for three to four percent above melt in December 2012 when silver was in the US$33 range. At that time, buy prices ranged just below spot to spot.

Fast forward to now for an entirely different situation. Two bullion industry market makers are currently paying significant premiums over spot for 90 percent silver.

Even those who are willing to pay the new levels may not be able to acquire silver. “Out of stock” is a common phrase at silver coin web site listings, and the same sad news has been dispensed to many potential buyers at local coin shops and over the phone.

One small silver coin dealer obtains much of his product from a large Midwestern source. An order for $500 face was placed and accepted last week. When the buyer went to pick up his order, he was told that just $250 face was available. Since this wholesaler is known for his utter dependability, this was something of a surprise.

silver coins, bullion coinsThe supply/demand and price situation in silver Eagles and Maple Leafs is similar to what is happening with 90 percent. Premiums and prices are moving up, and those who hesitate need to get out of the way as others in line are willing to pay the going rate.

Need more proof that spot numbers are not the ultimate guide to real world pricing? What if spot dropped to $15 tomorrow? Do you think that you could obtain silver for $5 or $6 an ounce over spot? Only the delusional and uninformed would expect to find silver in such a scenario.

Spot will have less influence on the retail market as the frequent manipulation of paper prices continues and public awareness of such trickery expands. Toss in growth in demand for physical silver coins coupled with tight supplies, and precious metals buyers may have to do a little work to determine fair prices in the future.

How can a person find such information? It’s very easy in the information age. Check a few major dealer web sites to get their buy/sell spreads. When postage fees are added to the total, small buyers can do as well or better making purchases of silver coins at local shops rather than going the mail-order route.

So when is the right time to buy silver, and what would be a fair premium to pay? That’s a decision (emphasis on being proactive rather than passive) every individual has to make. Keep in mind that buying silver isn’t an all or nothing proposition.

What if someone wants to spend a few thousand dollars on the metal, but they aren’t sure about pulling the trigger? Put a portion of the funds into silver and see what develops in the future. Don’t expect to hit a home run on every buy, but a steady stream of singles and doubles will win the silver game in the long run.

Don’t Get Fixated On Spot Price When Buying Silver Coins

8 Valuable Coins That Could Be Hiding in Your Change

8 Valuable Coins That Could Be Hiding in Your Change

  
You never know what a coin might amount to.
You never know what a coin might amount to.
IMAGE: FLICKR, QUINN DOMBROWSKI
Take a closer look before you dump that handful of pennies and nickels into the tip jar — you don’t need to find a Revolutionary War-era coin to make a fortune from your change.They’re harder to find each year, but there are several valuable coins floating around that aren’t all that old. They’re often valuable for vastly different reasons — like the World War II-era coins minted from atypical metals, or double-printed pennies — but each one is easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.

Check out these eight coins that are worth a lot more than their intended value.

1. 2004 Wisconsin state quarter with extra leaf

Value: Up to $300

Find an average Wisconsin state quarter from 2004, and that will get you one-fourth of a bag of chips. Find one with either the high or low leaf error, and you can get a whole lot more.

The 50 State Quarters series ran from 1999 until 2008, with special designs representing each state. Wisconsin’s quarter came out in 2004; the reverse design features a cow, a wheel of cheese and a partially husked ear of corn lurking in the back.

765px-2004_WI_Proof
It would be too easy to make a corny joke about this coin. Too cheesy?

However, some the coins have an extra line below the front left leaf, which looks like another leaf entirely. There are two varieties you should be looking out for: the high leaf and low leaf.

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2. 1995 double die penny

Value: $20 – $50

1995ddo1liberty-435x165
1995ddo1inGOD-437x153

This penny has a double-printed obverse (heads side) that makes the “LIBERTY” and “IN GOD WE TRUST” look blurry. The error has happened before, in 1969 and 1972, and those versions of the coins are much more valuable.

3. 1942-1945 silver nickel

Value: 56 cents – $12.25

During World War II, the United States needed to save as much nickel as possible for military uses. Consequently, it started minting nickels made of 35% silver. Melting down pennies and nickels is a federal offense, but the coin might still fetch you enough for a decent lunch, if it’s in good condition.

4. 1943 steel penny

Value: 45 cents – $10

1943 Steel Penny
Pennies were made from steel in 1943 only.

IMAGE: UNITED STATES MINT

Pennies were made from steel during wartime, for the same reasons nickels were made partially from silver — steel pennies helped preserve copper for World War II. However, the switch only lasted one year.

5. Ben Franklin half-dollar

Value: $12 – $125

Franklin Half-Dollar
Easy to notice, but hard to find.

IMAGE: UNITED STATES MINT

In 1948, the U.S. mint began circulating half-dollar coins with images of Ben Franklin and an eagle — which is funny, considering Franklin opposed the bald eagle’s nomination as the nation’s bird, in favor of a wild turkey.

Franklin’s portrait on the coin was replaced by John F. Kennedy in 1964, following the president’s 1963 assassination.

6. 1932-1964 silver quarter

Value: $7 – $65

Between 1932 and 1964, quarters were 90% silver and 10% copper. These silver quarters look like any pre-state quarter 25-cent piece, but are worth a lot more if they’re in the right condition.

7. ‘In God We Rust’ 2005 Kansas state quarter

Value: Up to $100

rust
Remember: Always clean your machine.

IMAGE: ABOUT.COM

While it might seem like a mint employee’s rogue political statement, these coins are actually just the result of grease preventing a clean pressing.

8. Presidential dollar coin with lettering errors

Value: $20 – $45

gw
These Washington dollars are missing key inscriptions.

IMAGE: NGC

In 2007, the U.S. Mint began printing a series of dollar coins featuring presidents. Many of the early coins, especially those with George Washington, have errant or missing lettering along the edge of the coin.

 

http://mashable.com/2014/08/25/valuable-coins/#B_NvmAVLIGqw

How to Find Valuable Silver in Your Pocket Change

How to Find Valuable Silver in Your Pocket Change

The various types of hobbies that people engage in have an amazing range; from running to reading to collecting, the number of activities are endless. But finding profit in these many hobbies is not easy to do.

But if you are the man in this story, your hobby returns profit nearly every time. This nameless monetary vigilante had his son upload a video to YouTube of his hobby for the whole world to see. He buys large quantities of rolls of dimes from various banks and looks through each roll for ones minted with silver.

The reason behind this is for bullion profit. Before 1965, all dimes were made out of 90% silver by the U.S. Mint. Afterwards, the Mint began using copper and devaluing the coins.

His inspection of one roll takes only a few minutes, as he can spot a true silver dime from the rest fairly simply by looking at the entire stack grouped together. The cleaner, smoother-ridged coin that looks like the color silver – in contrast to the dirtied, more-ridged and copper-based coins – is what he’s looking for.

silver dime rolls

From Mining.com

“I am averaging one silver dime out of every $100,” the Bread Scavenger (as the video below titles him) says. But within this day’s dime inspecting within the mini-documentary, he happens to find more silver dimes than his average.

He explains that he always keeps around $300 to $400 of cash on him to buy up a bank’s dime rolls. He indicates that he only stops by these banks when he has other errands to do and does not go out of his way to collect these large bags of dimes.

After inspecting every dime, he keeps the true silver dimes and then returns the “worthless” dimes back to the bank’s coin collector, emphasizing on NOT using Coinstar (which deducts 9.8% of total amount counted in the U.S.) This deducted fee would then negate any profit he made from the silver dimes he extracted from the rolls, therefore he only uses particular banks’ coin counting machines to receive all his cash back.

This hobby may sound tedious but with training, he says, it only takes a few minutes to inspect hundreds of dollars worth of dimes.

As for profit? With every silver dime he finds, he says they are worth about $2 or higher, as the cost of silver is consistently rising. So about twenty times the dime’s face value comes from just one silver dime he finds.

“Occasionally I will find some really old ones and they will have a numismatic value over their bullion value,” he tells the camera. “It’s coin collecting and sometimes an old coin will have a higher value to collectors than they do for their silver content.”

His reasoning is simple: “If I left $100 in the bank for a year it might make a few cents in interest, but if I keep taking that hundred dollars over, and over, and over again, I could double and triple it with these silver dimes with the same hundred dollars.”

The pre-1965 dimes are made of 90% silver and 10% copper, and following the Coinage Act of 1965, the dime’s silver content was completely removed. It changed to a clad “sandwich” of copper between two layers of an alloy of 75% and 25% nickel. These new dimes that many of us possess hold no precious metals in them and with the prices of gold and silver continuing to go through the roof, any amount of precious metal you can get your hands on – especially for free like the star of this documentary– than it is 100% worth the investment.

It is said that the U.S. could actually save even more money from the Mint if they stopped minting pennies and nickels with copper, zinc and nickel and simply minted with steel. Reestablishing our coins to be made without these mined metals would save the U.S. as much as $207 million a year.

In the meantime, there are plenty of ways to personally profit from precious metals that sit in our couch cushions and piggy banks, it’s just a matter of finding them.

 

http://www.wealthwire.com/news/metals/3510

History of Jewellery

Jewellery

Amber pendants

Diamond temptation design

Jewellery (British English) or jewelry (American English)consists of small decorative items worn for personal adornment, such as broochesringsnecklacesearrings, and bracelets. Jewellery may be attached to the body or the clothes, and the term is restricted to durable ornaments, excluding flowers for example. For many centuries metal, often combined with gemstones, has been the normal material for jewellery, but other materials such as shells and other plant materials may be used. It is one of the oldest type of archaeological artefact – with 100,000-year-old beads made from Nassarius shells thought to be the oldest known jewellery. The basic forms of jewellery vary between cultures but are often extremely long-lived; in European cultures the most common forms of jewellery listed above have persisted since ancient times, while other forms such as adornments for the nose or ankle, important in other cultures, are much less common. Historically, the most widespread influence on jewellery in terms of design and style have come from Asia.

The Daria-i-Noor (meaning: Sea of Light) Diamond from the collection of the national jewels of Iran at Central Bank of Islamic Republic of Iran

Jewellery may be made from a wide range of materials. Gemstones and similar materials such as amber and coralprecious metalsbeads, and shells have been widely used, and enamel has often been important. In most cultures jewellery can be understood as a status symbol, for its material properties, its patterns, or for meaningful symbols. Jewellery has been made to adorn nearly every body part, from hairpins to toe rings, and even genital jewellery. The patterns of wearing jewellery between the sexes, and by children and older people can vary greatly between cultures, but adult women have been the most consistent wearers of jewellery; in modern European culture the amount worn by adult males is relatively low compared with other cultures and other periods in European culture.

The word jewellery itself is derived from the word jewel, which was anglicised from the Old French “jouel“, and beyond that, to the Latin word “jocale“, meaning plaything. In British EnglishIndian EnglishNew Zealand EnglishHiberno-EnglishAustralian English, and South African English it is spelled jewellery, while the spelling is jewelry in American English. Both are used in Canadian English, though jewelry prevails by a two to one margin. In French and a few other European languages the equivalent term, joaillerie there, may also cover decorated metalwork in precious metal such as objets d’art and church items, not just objects worn on the person.

Kenyan man wearing tribal beads

Humans have used jewellery for a number of different reasons:

  • functional, generally to fix clothing or hair in place, or to tell the time (in the case of watches)
  • as a marker of social status and personal status, as with a wedding ring
  • as a signifier of some form of affiliation, whether ethnic, religious or social
  • to provide talismanic protection (in the form of amulets)
  • as an artistic display
  • as a carrier or symbol of personal meaning – such as love, mourning, or even luck

Most cultures at some point have had a practice of keeping large amounts of wealth stored in the form of jewellery. Numerous cultures store wedding dowries in the form of jewellery or make jewellery as a means to store or display coins. Alternatively, jewellery has been used as a currency or trade good; an example being the use of slave beads.

Many items of jewellery, such as brooches and buckles, originated as purely functional items, but evolved into decorative items as their functional requirement diminished.

Jewellery can also symbolise group membership (as in the case, of the Christiancrucifix or the JewishStar of David) or status (as in the case of chains of office, or the Western practice of married people wearing wedding rings).

Wearing of amulets and devotional medals to provide protection or ward off evil is common in some cultures. These may take the form of symbols (such as the ankh), stones, plants, animals, body parts (such as the Khamsa), or glyphs (such as stylised versions of the Throne Verse in Islamic art).

Materials and methods

In creating jewellery, gemstonescoins, or other precious items are often used, and they are typically set into precious metals. Alloys of nearly every metal known have been encountered in jewellery. Bronze, for example, was common in Roman times. Modern fine jewellery usually includes goldwhite goldplatinumpalladiumtitanium, or silver. Most contemporary gold jewellery is made of an alloy of gold, the purity of which is stated in karats, indicated by a number followed by the letter K. American gold jewellery must be of at least 10K purity (41.7% pure gold), (though in the UK the number is 9K (37.5% pure gold) and is typically found up to 18K (75% pure gold). Higher purity levels are less common with alloys at 22 K (91.6% pure gold), and 24 K (99.9% pure gold) being considered too soft for jewellery use in America and Europe. These high purity alloys, however, are widely used across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Platinum alloys range from 900 (90% pure) to 950 (95.0% pure). The silver used in jewellery is usually sterling silver, or 92.5% fine silver. In costume jewellerystainless steel findings are sometimes used.

Bead embroidery design.

Other commonly used materials include glass, such as fused-glass or enamelwood, often carved or turned; shells and other natural animal substances such as bone and ivory; natural claypolymer clay; Hemp and other twines have been used as well to create jewellery that has more of a natural feel. However, any inclusion of lead or lead solder will give an English Assay office (the building which gives English jewellery its stamp of approval, the Hallmark) the right to destroy the piece, however it is very rare for the assay office to do so.

Beads are frequently used in jewellery. These may be made of glass, gemstones, metal, wood, shells, clay and polymer clay. Beaded jewellery commonly encompasses necklacesbraceletsearringsbelts and rings. Beads may be large or small; the smallest type of beads used are known as seed beads, these are the beads used for the “woven” style of beaded jewellery. Another use of seed beads is an embroidery technique where seed beads are sewn onto fabric backings to create broad collar neck pieces and beaded bracelets. Bead embroidery, a popular type of handwork during the Victorian era, is enjoying a renaissance in modern jewellery making. Beading, or beadwork, is also very popular in many African and indigenous North American cultures.

Silversmithsgoldsmiths, and lapidaries methods include forgingcastingsoldering or welding, cutting, carving and “cold-joining” (using adhesivesstaples and rivets to assemble parts).

Diamonds

Diamonds

Diamonds were first mined in India. Pliny may have mentioned them, although there is some debate as to the exact nature of the stone he referred to as Adamas; In 2005, AustraliaBotswanaRussia and Canada ranked among the primary sources of gemstone diamond production. There are negative consequences of the diamond trade in certain areas. Diamonds mined during the recent civil wars in AngolaIvory CoastSierra Leone, and other nations have been labelled as blood diamonds when they are mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency.

The British crown jewels contain the Cullinan Diamond, part of the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found (1905), at 3,106.75 carats (621.35 g).

Now popular in engagement rings, this usage dates back to the marriage of Maximilian I to Mary of Burgundy in 1477.

Other gemstones

Many precious and semiprecious stones are used for jewellery. Among them are:

Amber
Amber, an ancient organic gemstone, is composed of tree resin that has hardened over time. The stone must be at least one million years old to be classified as amber, and some amber can be up to 120 million years old.
Amethyst
Amethyst has historically been the most prized gemstone in the quartz family. It is treasured for its purple hue, which can range in tone from light to dark.

Spanish emerald and gold pendant at Victoria and Albert Museum.
Emerald
Emeralds are one of the three main precious gemstones (along with rubies and sapphires) and are known for their fine green to bluish green colour. They have been treasured throughout history, and some historians report that the Egyptians mined emerald as early as 3500 BC.
Jade
Jade is most commonly associated with the colour green but can come in a number of other colours as well. Jade is closely linked to Asian culture, history, and tradition, and is sometimes referred to as the stone of heaven.
Jasper
Jasper is a gemstone of the chalcedony family that comes in a variety of colours. Often, jasper will feature unique and interesting patterns within the coloured stone. Picture jasper is a type of jasper known for the colours (often beiges and browns) and swirls in the stone’s pattern.
Quartz
Quartz refers to a family of crystalline gemstones of various colours and sizes. Among the well-known types of quartz are rose quartz (which has a delicate pink colour), and smoky quartz (which comes in a variety of shades of translucent brown). A number of other gemstones, such as Amethyst and Citrine, are also part of the quartz family. Rutilated quartz is a popular type of quartz containing needle-like inclusions.
Ruby
Rubies are known for their intense red colour and are among the most highly valued precious gemstones. Rubies have been treasured for millennia. In Sanskrit, the word for ruby is ratnaraj, meaning king of precious stones.
Sapphire
The most popular form of sapphire is blue sapphire, which is known for its medium to deep blue colour and strong saturation. Fancy sapphires of various colours are also available. In the United States, blue sapphire tends to be the most popular and most affordable of the three major precious gemstones (emerald, ruby, and sapphire).
Turquoise
Turquoise is found in only a few places on earth, and the world’s largest turquoise producing region is the southwest United States. Turquoise is prized for its attractive colour, most often an intense medium blue or a greenish blue, and its ancient heritage. Turquoise is used in a great variety of jewellery styles. It is perhaps most closely associated with southwest and Native American jewellery, but it is also used in many sleek, modern styles. Some turquoise contains a matrix of dark brown markings, which provides an interesting contrast to the gemstone’s bright blue colour.

Some gemstones (like pearls, coral, and amber) are classified as organic, meaning that they are produced by living organisms. Others are inorganic, meaning that they are generally composed of and arise from minerals.

Some gems, for example, amethyst, have become less valued as methods of extracting and importing them have progressed. Some man-made gems can serve in place of natural gems, such as cubic zirconia, which can be used in place of diamond.

Metal finishes

An example of gold plated jewellery

For platinumgold, and silver jewellery, there are many techniques to create finishes. The most common are high-polish, satin/matte, brushed, and hammered. High-polished jewellery is the most common and gives the metal a highly reflective, shiny look. Satin, or matte finish reduces the shine and reflection of the jewellery, and this is commonly used to accentuate gemstones such as diamonds. Brushed finishes give the jewellery a textured look and are created by brushing a material (similar to sandpaper) against the metal, leaving “brush strokes”. Hammered finishes are typically created by using a rounded steel hammer and hammering the jewellery to give it a wavy texture.

Some jewellery is plated to give it a shiny, reflective look or to achieve a desired colour. Sterling silver jewellery may be plated with a thin layer of 0.999 fine silver (a process known as flashing) or may be plated with rhodium or gold. Base metal costume jewellery may also be plated with silver, gold, or rhodium for a more attractive finish.

Impact on society

Jewellery has been used to denote status. In ancient Rome, only certain ranks could wear rings; later, sumptuary laws dictated who could wear what type of jewellery. This was also based on rank of the citizens of that time. Cultural dictates have also played a significant role. For example, the wearing of earrings by Western men was considered effeminate in the 19th century and early 20th century. More recently, the display of body jewellery, such as piercings, has become a mark of acceptance or seen as a badge of courage within some groups but is completely rejected in others. Likewise, hip hop culture has popularised the slang term bling-bling, which refers to ostentatious display of jewellery by men or women.

Conversely, the jewellery industry in the early 20th century launched a campaign to popularise wedding rings for men, which caught on, as well as engagement rings for men, which did not, going so far as to create a false history and claim that the practice had medieval roots. By the mid-1940s, 85% of weddings in the U.S. featured a double-ring ceremony, up from 15% in the 1920s. Religion has also played a role in societies influence. Islam, for instance, considers the wearing of gold by men as a social taboo, and many religions have edicts against excessive display. In Christianity, the New Testament gives injunctions against the wearing of gold, in the writings of the apostles Paul and Peter. In Revelation 17, “the great whore” or false religious system, is depicted as being “decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand.” (Rev. 17:4) For Muslims it is considered haraam for a man to wear gold.

History

The history of jewellery is long and goes back many years, with many different uses among different cultures. It has endured for thousands of years and has provided various insights into how ancient cultures worked.

Prehistory

The first signs of jewellery came from the people in Africa. Perforated beads suggesting shell jewellery made from sea snail shells have been found dating to 75,000 years ago at Blombos Cave. In Kenya, at Enkapune Ya Muto, beads made from perforated ostrich egg shells have been dated to more than 40,000 years ago. In Russia, a stone bracelet and marble ring are attributed to a similar age.

Later, the European early modern humans had crude necklaces and bracelets of bone, teeth, berries, and stone hung on pieces of string or animal sinew, or pieces of carved bone used to secure clothing together. In some cases, jewellery had shell or mother-of-pearlpieces. A decorated engraved pendant dating to around 11,000 BC, and thought to be the oldest Mesolithic art in Britain, was found at the site of Star Carr in North Yorkshire in 2015. In southern Russia, carved bracelets made of mammothtusk have been found. The Venus of Hohle Fels features a perforation at the top, showing that it was intended to be worn as a pendant.

Around seven-thousand years ago, the first sign of copper jewellery was seen.  In October 2012 the Museum of Ancient History in Lower Austria revealed that they had found a grave of a female jewellery worker – forcing archaeologists to take a fresh look at prehistoric gender roles after it appeared to be that of a female fine metal worker – a profession that was previously thought to have been carried out exclusively by men.

Egypt

Amulet pendant (1254 BC) made from goldlapis lazuliturquoise and carnelian, 14 cm wide.

An Egyptian 18th dynastypharaonic era princess’ crown.

The first signs of established jewellery making in Ancient Egypt was around 3,000–5,000 years ago. The Egyptians preferred the luxury, rarity, and workability of gold over other metals. In Predynastic Egypt jewellery soon began to symbolise political and religious power in the community. Although it was worn by wealthy Egyptians in life, it was also worn by them in death, with jewellery commonly placed among grave goods.

In conjunction with gold jewellery, Egyptians used coloured glass, along with semi-precious gems. The colour of the jewellery had significance. Green, for example, symbolised fertility. Lapis lazuli and silver had to be imported from beyond the country’s borders.

Egyptian designs were most common in Phoenician jewellery. Also, ancient Turkish designs found in Persian jewellery suggest that trade between the Middle East and Europe was not uncommon. Women wore elaborate gold and silver pieces that were used in ceremonies.

Europe and the Middle East

Mesopotamia

Pair of Gold Hair Ornaments, Mesopotamian, circa 2000 BC (Isin-larsa period). Decorated with granulation and cloisonnéWalters Art Museum collections.

By approximately 5,000 years ago, jewellery-making had become a significant craft in the cities of Mesopotamia. The most significant archaeological evidence comes from the Royal Cemetery of Ur, where hundreds of burials dating 2900–2300 BC were unearthed; tombs such as that of Puabi contained a multitude of artefacts in gold, silver, and semi-precious stones, such as lapis lazuli crowns embellished with gold figurines, close-fitting collar necklaces, and jewel-headed pins. In Assyria, men and women both wore extensive amounts of jewellery, including amulets, ankle bracelets, heavy multi-strand necklaces, and cylinder seals.

Jewellery in Mesopotamia tended to be manufactured from thin metal leaf and was set with large numbers of brightly coloured stones (chiefly agate, lapis, carnelian, and jasper). Favoured shapes included leaves, spirals, cones, and bunches of grapes. Jewellers created works both for human use and for adorning statues and idols. They employed a wide variety of sophisticated metalworking techniques, such as cloisonnéengraving, fine granulation, and filigree.

Extensive and meticulously maintained records pertaining to the trade and manufacture of jewellery have also been unearthed throughout Mesopotamian archaeological sites. One record in the Mari royal archives, for example, gives the composition of various items of jewellery:

  • 1 necklace of flat speckled chalcedony beads including: 34 flat speckled chalcedony bead, [and] 35 gold fluted beads, in groups of five.
  • 1 necklace of flat speckled chalcedony beads including: 39 flat speckled chalcedony beads, [with] 41 fluted beads in a group that make up the hanging device.
  • 1 necklace with rounded lapis lazuli beads including: 28 rounded lapis lazuli beads, [and] 29 fluted beads for its clasp.

Greece

Gold earring from Mycenae, 16th century BC.

Gold Wreath

The Greeks started using gold and gems in jewellery in 1600 BC, although beads shaped as shells and animals were produced widely in earlier times. Around 1500 BC, the main techniques of working gold in Greece included casting, twisting bars, and making wire. Many of these sophisticated techniques were popular in the Mycenaean period, but unfortunately this skill was lost at the end of the Bronze Age. The forms and shapes of jewellery in ancient Greece such as the armring (13th century BC), brooch (10th century BC) and pins (7th century BC), have varied widely since the Bronze Age as well. Other forms of jewellery include wreaths, earrings, necklace and bracelets. A good example of the high quality that gold working techniques could achieve in Greece is the ‘Gold Olive Wreath’ (4th century BC), which is modeled on the type of wreath given as a prize for winners in athletic competitions like the Olympic Games. Jewellery dating from 600 to 475 BC is not well represented in the archaeological record, but after the Persian wars the quantity of jewellery again became more plentiful. One particularly popular type of design at this time was a bracelet decorated with snake and animal-heads Because these bracelets used considerably more metal, many examples were made from bronze. By 300 BC, the Greeks had mastered making coloured jewellery and using amethystspearl, and emeralds. Also, the first signs of cameos appeared, with the Greeks creating them from IndianSardonyx, a striped brown pink and cream agate stone. Greek jewellery was often simpler than in other cultures, with simple designs and workmanship. However, as time progressed, the designs grew in complexity and different materials were soon used.

Pendant with naked woman, made from electrumRhodes, around 630–620 BC.

Jewellery in Greece was hardly worn and was mostly used for public appearances or on special occasions. It was frequently given as a gift and was predominantly worn by women to show their wealth, social status, and beauty. The jewellery was often supposed to give the wearer protection from the “Evil Eye” or endowed the owner with supernatural powers, while others had a religious symbolism. Older pieces of jewellery that have been found were dedicated to the Gods.

Ancient Greek jewellery from 300 BC.

They worked two styles of pieces: cast pieces and pieces hammered out of sheet metal. Fewer pieces of cast jewellery have been recovered. It was made by casting the metal onto two stone or clay moulds. The two halves were then joined together, and wax, followed by molten metal, was placed in the centre. This technique had been practised since the late Bronze Age. The more common form of jewellery was the hammered sheet type. Sheets of metal would be hammered to thickness and then soldered together. The inside of the two sheets would be filled with wax or another liquid to preserve the metal work. Different techniques, such as using a stamp or engraving, were then used to create motifs on the jewellery. Jewels may then be added to hollows or glass poured into special cavities on the surface. The Greeks took much of their designs from outer origins, such as Asia, when Alexander the Great conquered part of it. In earlier designs, other European influences can also be detected. When Roman rule came to Greece, no change in jewellery designs was detected. However, by 27 BC, Greek designs were heavily influenced by the Roman culture. That is not to say that indigenous design did not thrive. Numerous polychrome butterfly pendants on silver foxtail chains, dating from the 1st century, have been found near Olbia, with only one example ever found anywhere else.

These Hellenistic bracelets from the 1st century BC show the influence of Eastern cultures. Walters Art MuseumBaltimore.

Hexagonal gold pendant with double solidus of Constantine the Great, one of a set of four that date from 321 AD (British Museum)

Rome

Roman Amethystintaglioengraved gem, c. 212 AD; later regarded as of St. Peter.

Although jewellery work was abundantly diverse in earlier times, especially among the barbarian tribes such as the Celts, when the Romans conquered most of Europe, jewellery was changed as smaller factions developed the Roman designs. The most common artefact of early Rome was the brooch, which was used to secure clothing together. The Romans used a diverse range of materials for their jewellery from their extensive resources across the continent. Although they used gold, they sometimes used bronze or bone, and in earlier times, glass beads & pearl. As early as 2,000 years ago, they imported Sri Lankansapphires and Indian diamonds and used emeralds and amber in their jewellery. In Roman-ruled England, fossilised wood called jet from Northern England was often carved into pieces of jewellery. The early Italians worked in crude gold and created clasps, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. They also produced larger pendants that could be filled with perfume.

Like the Greeks, often the purpose of Roman jewellery was to ward off the “Evil Eye” given by other people. Although women wore a vast array of jewellery, men often only wore a finger ring. Although they were expected to wear at least one ring, some Roman men wore a ring on every finger, while others wore none. Roman men and women wore rings with an engraved gem on it that was used with wax to seal documents, a practice that continued into medieval times when kings and noblemen used the same method. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the jewellery designs were absorbed by neighbouring countries and tribes.

Middle Ages

Merovingian fibulae, Bibliothèque nationale de France.

6th century bronze eagle-shaped Visigothic cloisonné fibula from GuadalajaraSpain, using glass-paste fillings in imitation of garnets.

Post-Roman Europe continued to develop jewellery making skills. The Celts and Merovingians in particular are noted for their jewellery, which in terms of quality matched or exceeded that of Byzantium. Clothing fasteners, amulets, and, to a lesser extent, signet rings, are the most common artefacts known to us. A particularly striking Celtic example is the Tara Brooch. The Torc was common throughout Europe as a symbol of status and power. By the 8th century, jewelled weaponry was common for men, while other jewellery (with the exception of signet rings) seemed to become the domain of women. Grave goods found in a 6th–7th century burial near Chalon-sur-Saône are illustrative. A young girl was buried with: 2 silver fibulae, a necklace (with coins), bracelet, gold earrings, a pair of hair-pins, comb, and buckle. The Celts specialised in continuous patterns and designs, while Merovingian designs are best known for stylised animal figures. They were not the only groups known for high quality work. Note the Visigoth work shown here, and the numerous decorative objects found at the Anglo-SaxonShip burial at Sutton HooSuffolkEngland are a particularly well-known example. On the continent, cloisonné and garnet were perhaps the quintessential method and gemstone of the period.

The Eastern successor of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, continued many of the methods of the Romans, though religious themes came to predominate. Unlike the Romans, the Franks, and the Celts, however, Byzantium used light-weight gold leaf rather than solid gold, and more emphasis was placed on stones and gems. As in the West, Byzantine jewellery was worn by wealthier females, with male jewellery apparently restricted to signet rings. Woman’s jewellery had some peculiarities like kolts that decorated headband. Like other contemporary cultures, jewellery was commonly buried with its owner.

Renaissance

The Renaissance and exploration both had significant impacts on the development of jewellery in Europe. By the 17th century, increasing exploration and trade led to increased availability of a wide variety of gemstones as well as exposure to the art of other cultures. Whereas prior to this the working of gold and precious metal had been at the forefront of jewellery, this period saw increasing dominance of gemstones and their settings. An example of this is the Cheapside Hoard, the stock of a jeweller hidden in London during the Commonwealth period and not found again until 1912. It contained Colombian emeraldtopazamazonite from Brazil, spineliolite, and chrysoberyl from Sri Lanka, ruby from India, Afghan lapis lazuliPersianturquoise, Red Sea peridot, as well as Bohemian and Hungarian opalgarnet, and amethyst. Large stones were frequently set in box-bezels on enamelled rings. Notable among merchants of the period was Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, who brought the precursor stone of the Hope Diamond to France in the 1660s.

When Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned as Emperor of the French in 1804, he revived the style and grandeur of jewellery and fashion in France. Under Napoleon’s rule, jewellers introduced parures, suites of matching jewellery, such as a diamond tiara, diamond earrings, diamond rings, a diamond brooch, and a diamond necklace. Both of Napoleon’s wives had beautiful sets such as these and wore them regularly. Another fashion trend resurrected by Napoleon was the cameo. Soon after his cameo decorated crown was seen, cameos were highly sought. The period also saw the early stages of costume jewellery, with fish scale covered glass beads in place of pearls or conchshell cameos instead of stone cameos. New terms were coined to differentiate the arts: jewellers who worked in cheaper materials were called bijoutiers, while jewellers who worked with expensive materials were called joailliers, a practice which continues to this day.

Romanticism

Mourning jewellery in the form of a jetbrooch, 19th century.

Starting in the late 18th century, Romanticism had a profound impact on the development of western jewellery. Perhaps the most significant influences were the public’s fascination with the treasures being discovered through the birth of modern archaeology and a fascination with Medieval and Renaissance art. Changing social conditions and the onset of the Industrial Revolution also led to growth of a middle class that wanted and could afford jewellery. As a result, the use of industrial processes, cheaper alloys, and stone substitutes led to the development of paste or costume jewellery. Distinguished goldsmiths continued to flourish, however, as wealthier patrons sought to ensure that what they wore still stood apart from the jewellery of the masses, not only through use of precious metals and stones but also though superior artistic and technical work. One such artist was the French goldsmith François-Désiré Froment-Meurice. A category unique to this period and quite appropriate to the philosophy of romanticism was mourning jewellery. It originated in England, where Queen Victoria was often seen wearing jet jewellery after the death of Prince Albert, and it allowed the wearer to continue wearing jewellery while expressing a state of mourning at the death of a loved one.

In the United States, this period saw the founding in 1837 of Tiffany & Co. by Charles Lewis Tiffany. Tiffany’s put the United States on the world map in terms of jewellery and gained fame creating dazzling commissions for people such as the wife of Abraham Lincoln. Later, it would gain popular notoriety as the setting of the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In France, Pierre Cartier founded Cartier SA in 1847, while 1884 saw the founding of Bulgari in Italy. The modern production studio had been born and was a step away from the former dominance of individual craftsmen and patronage.

This period also saw the first major collaboration between East and West. Collaboration in Pforzheim between German and Japanese artists led to Shakudō plaques set into Filigree frames being created by the Stoeffler firm in 1885). Perhaps the grand finalé – and an appropriate transition to the following period – were the masterful creations of the Russian artist Peter Carl Fabergé, working for the Imperial Russian court, whose Fabergé eggs and jewellery pieces are still considered as the epitome of the goldsmith’s art.

18th Century / Romanticism/ Renaissance

Many whimsical fashions were introduced in the extravagant eighteenth century. Cameos that were used in connection with jewellery were the attractive trinkets along with many of the small objects such as brooches, ear-rings and scarf-pins. Some of the necklace were made of several pieces joined with the gold chains were in and bracelets were also made sometimes to match the necklet and the brooch. At the end of the Century the jewellery with cut steel intermixed with large crystals was introduced by an Englishman, Matthew Boulton of Birmingham.

Art Nouveau

In the 1890s, jewellers began to explore the potential of the growing Art Nouveau style and the closely related German Jugendstil, British (and to some extent American) Arts and Crafts Movement, Catalan Modernisme, Austro-Hungarian Sezession, Italian “Liberty”, etc.

Art Nouveau jewellery encompassed many distinct features including a focus on the female form and an emphasis on colour, most commonly rendered through the use of enamelling techniques including basse-taille, champleve, cloisonné, and plique-à-jour. Motifs included orchids, irises, pansies, vines, swans, peacocks, snakes, dragonflies, mythological creatures, and the female silhouette.

René Lalique, working for the Paris shop of Samuel Bing, was recognised by contemporaries as a leading figure in this trend. The Darmstadt Artists’ Colony and Wiener Werkstätte provided perhaps the most significant input to the trend, while in Denmark Georg Jensen, though best known for his Silverware, also contributed significant pieces. In England, Liberty & Co. and the British arts & crafts movement of Charles Robert Ashbee contributed slightly more linear but still characteristic designs. The new style moved the focus of the jeweller’s art from the setting of stones to the artistic design of the piece itself. Lalique’s dragonfly design is one of the best examples of this. Enamels played a large role in technique, while sinuous organic lines are the most recognisable design feature.

The end of World War I once again changed public attitudes, and a more sober style developed.

Art Deco

Growing political tensions, the after-effects of the war, and a reaction against the perceived decadence of the turn of the 20th century led to simpler forms, combined with more effective manufacturing for mass production of high-quality jewellery. Covering the period of the 1920s and 1930s, the style has become popularly known as Art DecoWalter Gropius and the German Bauhaus movement, with their philosophy of “no barriers between artists and craftsmen” led to some interesting and stylistically simplified forms. Modern materials were also introduced: plastics and aluminium were first used in jewellery, and of note are the chromed pendants of Russian-born Bauhaus master Naum Slutzky. Technical mastery became as valued as the material itself. In the West, this period saw the reinvention of granulation by the German Elizabeth Treskow, although development of the re-invention has continued into the 1990s. It is based on the basic shapes.

Asia

Royal earrings, India, 1st Century BC.

Indian king Bhupinder Singh of Patiala wearing Patiala Necklace which contained 2,930 diamonds, including as its centrepiece, the world’s seventh largest diamond, the “De Beers”, that had a 428 carat pre-cut weigh, and weighed 234.65 carats in its final setting. The piece also contained seven other diamonds ranging from 18 to 73 carats, and a number of Burmese rubies

In Asia, the Indian subcontinent has the longest continuous legacy of jewellery making anywhere, with a history of over 5,000 years. One of the first to start jewellery making were the peoples of the Indus Valley Civilization, in what is now predominately modern-day Pakistan and part of northern and western India. Early jewellery making in China started around the same period, but it became widespread with the spread of Buddhism around 2,000 years ago.

China[edit]

The Chinese used silver in their jewellery more than gold. Blue kingfisher feathers were tied onto early Chinese jewellery and later, blue gems and glass were incorporated into designs. However, jade was preferred over any other stone. The Chinese revered jade because of the human-like qualities they assigned to it, such as its hardness, durability, and beauty. The first jade pieces were very simple, but as time progressed, more complex designs evolved. Jade rings from between the 4th and 7th centuries BC show evidence of having been worked with a compound milling machine, hundreds of years before the first mention of such equipment in the west.

Jade coiled serpent, Han Dynasty(202 BC–220 AD)

`Xin’ Shape Jewellery from Ming Dynasty Tombs, (1368–1644)

In China, the most uncommon piece of jewellery is the earring, which was worn neither by men nor women.Amulets were common, often with a Chinese symbol or dragon. Dragons, Chinese symbols, and phoenixeswere frequently depicted on jewellery designs.

The Chinese often placed their jewellery in their graves. Most Chinese graves found by archaeologists contain decorative jewellery.

Indian subcontinent

Two-Tiered Enamel Earrings, late 18th-early 19th century. Qajar Dynasty. Brooklyn Museum.

The Indian subcontinent (encompassing IndiaPakistan and other countries of South Asia) has a long jewellery history, which went through various changes through cultural influence and politics for more than 5,000–8,000 years. Because India had an abundant supply of precious metals and gems, it prospered financially through export and exchange with other countries. While European traditions were heavily influenced by waxing and waning empires, India enjoyed a continuous development of art forms for some 5,000 years. One of the first to start jewellery making were the peoples of the Indus Valley Civilization (encompassing present-day Pakistan and north and northwest India). By 1500 BC, the peoples of the Indus Valley were creating gold earrings and necklaces, bead necklaces, and metallic bangles. Before 2100 BC, prior to the period when metals were widely used, the largest jewellery trade in the Indus Valley region was the bead trade. Beads in the Indus Valley were made using simple techniques. First, a bead maker would need a rough stone, which would be bought from an eastern stone trader. The stone would then be placed into a hot oven where it would be heated until it turned deep red, a colour highly prized by people of the Indus Valley. The red stone would then be chipped to the right size and a hole bored through it with primitive drills. The beads were then polished. Some beads were also painted with designs. This art form was often passed down through the family. Children of bead makers often learned how to work beads from a young age. Persian style also played a big role in India’s jewellery. Each stone had its own characteristics related to Hinduism.

Jewellery in the Indus Valley was worn predominantly by females, who wore numerous clay or shell bracelets on their wrists. They were often shaped like doughnuts and painted black. Over time, clay bangles were discarded for more durable ones. In present-day India, bangles are made out of metal or glass. Other pieces that women frequently wore were thin bands of gold that would be worn on the forehead, earrings, primitive brooches, chokers, and gold rings. Although women wore jewellery the most, some men in the Indus Valley wore beads. Small beads were often crafted to be placed in men and women’s hair. The beads were about one millimetre long.

A female skeleton (presently on display at the National Museum, New Delhi, India) wears a carlinean bangle (bracelet) on her left hand. Kada is a special kind of bracelet and is widely popular in Indian culture. They symbolizes animals like peacock, elephant, etc.

According to Hindu belief, gold and silver are considered as sacred metals. Gold is symbolic of the warm sun, while silver suggests the cool moon. Both are the quintessential metals of Indian jewellery. Pure gold does not oxidise or corrode with time, which is why Hindu tradition associates gold with immortality. Gold imagery occurs frequently in ancient Indian literature. In the Vedic Hindu belief of cosmological creation, the source of physical and spiritual human life originated in and evolved from a golden womb (hiranyagarbha) or egg (hiranyanda), a metaphor of the sun, whose light rises from the primordial waters.

Antique Pearl & Gold Nose Ring, India, 19th century

Jewellery had great status with India’s royalty; it was so powerful that they established laws, limiting wearing of jewellery to royalty. Only royalty and a few others to whom they granted permission could wear gold ornaments on their feet. This would normally be considered breaking the appreciation of the sacred metals. Even though the majority of the Indian population wore jewellery, Maharajas and people related to royalty had a deeper connection with jewellery. The Maharaja‘s role was so important that the Hindu philosophers identified him as central to the smooth working of the world. He was considered as a divine being, a deity in human form, whose duty was to uphold and protect dharma, the moral order of the universe.

A Navaratna ring.

Navaratna (nine gems)is a powerful jewel frequently worn by a Maharaja (Emperor). It is an amulet, which comprises diamond, pearl, ruby, sapphire, emerald, topaz, cat’s eye, coral, and hyacinth (red zircon). Each of these stones is associated with a celestial deity, represented the totality of the Hindu universe when all nine gems are together. The diamond is the most powerful gem among the nine stones. There were various cuts for the gemstone. Indian Kings bought gemstones privately from the sellers. Maharaja and other royal family members value gem as Hindu God. They exchanged gems with people to whom they were very close, especially the royal family members and other intimate allies. “Only the emperor himself, his intimate relations, and select members of his entourage were permitted to wear royal turban ornament. As the empire matured, differing styles of ornament acquired the generic name of sarpech, from sar or sir, meaning head, and pech, meaning fastener.”

India was the first country to mine diamonds, with some mines dating back to 296 BC. India traded the diamonds, realising their valuable qualities. Historically, diamonds have been given to retain or regain a lover’s or ruler’s lost favour, as symbols of tribute, or as an expression of fidelity in exchange for concessions and protection. Mughal emperors and Kings used the diamonds as a means of assuring their immortality by having their names and wordly titles inscribed upon them. Moreover, it has played and continues to play a pivotal role in Indian social, political, economic, and religious event, as it often has done elsewhere. In Indian history, diamonds have been used to acquire military equipment, finance wars, foment revolutions, and tempt defections. They have contributed to the abdication or the decapitation of potentates. They have been used to murder a representative of the dominating power by lacing his food with crushed diamond. Indian diamonds have been used as security to finance large loans needed to buttress politically or economically tottering regimes. Victorious military heroes have been honoured by rewards of diamonds and also have been used as ransom payment for release from imprisonment or abduction. Today, many of the jewellery designs and traditions are used, and jewellery is commonplace in Indian ceremonies and weddings.

North and South America

Jewellery played a major role in the fate of the Americas when the Spanish established an empire to seize South American gold. Jewellery making developed in the Americas 5,000 years ago in Central and South America. Large amounts of gold was easily accessible, and the AztecsMixtecsMayans, and numerous Andean cultures, such as the Mochica of Peru, created beautiful pieces of jewellery.

With the Mochica culture, goldwork flourished. The pieces are no longer simple metalwork, but are now masterful examples of jewellery making. Pieces are sophisticated in their design, and feature inlays of turquoise, mother of pearl, spondylus shell, and amethyst. The nose and ear ornaments, chest plates, small containers and whistles are considered masterpieces of ancient Peruvian culture.

Moche ear ornaments. 1–800 AD. Larco Museum Collection, Lima-Peru

Among the Aztecs, only nobility wore gold jewellery, as it showed their rank, power, and wealth. Gold jewellery was most common in the Aztec Empire and was often decorated with feathers from Quetzal birds and others. In general, the more jewellery an Aztec noble wore, the higher his status or prestige. The Emperor and his High Priests, for example, would be nearly completely covered in jewellery when making public appearances. Although gold was the most common and a popular material used in Aztec jewellery, jadeturquoise, and certain feathers were considered more valuable. In addition to adornment and status, the Aztecs also used jewellery in sacrifices to appease the gods. Priests also used gem-encrusted daggers to perform animal and human sacrifices.

Another ancient American civilization with expertise in jewellery making were the Maya. At the peak of their civilization, the Maya were making jewellery from jade, gold, silver, bronze, and copper. Maya designs were similar to those of the Aztecs, with lavish headdresses and jewellery. The Maya also traded in precious gems. However, in earlier times, the Maya had little access to metal, so they made the majority of their jewellery out of bone or stone. Merchants and nobility were the only few that wore expensive jewellery in the Maya region, much the same as with the Aztecs.

In North America, Native Americans used shells, wood, turquoise, and soapstone, almost unavailable in South and Central America. The turquoise was used in necklaces and to be placed in earrings. Native Americans with access to oyster shells, often located in only one location in America, traded the shells with other tribes, showing the great importance of the body adornment trade in Northern America.

Native American

Bai-De-Schluch-A-Ichin or Be-Ich-Schluck-Ich-In-Et-Tzuzzigi (Slender Silversmith) “Metal Beater,” Navajosilversmith, photo by George Ben Wittick, 1883

Native American jewellery is the personal adornment, often in the forms of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, pins, brooches, labrets, and more, made by the Indigenous peoples of the United States. Native American jewellery reflects the cultural diversity and history of its makers. Native American tribes continue to develop distinct aesthetics rooted in their personal artistic visions and cultural traditions. Artists create jewellery for adornment, ceremonies, and trade. Lois Sherr Dubin writes, “[i]n the absence of written languages, adornment became an important element of Indian [Native American] communication, conveying many levels of information.” Later, jewellery and personal adornment “…signaled resistance to assimilation. It remains a major statement of tribal and individual identity.”

Metalsmiths, beaders, carvers, and lapidaries combine a variety of metals, hardwoods, precious and semi-precious gemstones, beadworkquillwork, teeth, bones, hide, vegetal fibres, and other materials to create jewellery. Contemporary Native American jewellery ranges from hand-quarried and processed stones and shells to computer-fabricated steel and titanium jewellery.

Pacific

Jewellery making in the Pacific started later than in other areas because of recent human settlement. Early Pacific jewellery was made of bone, wood, and other natural materials, and thus has not survived. Most Pacific jewellery is worn above the waist, with headdresses, necklaces, hair pins, and arm and waist belts being the most common pieces.

Jewellery in the Pacific, with the exception of Australia, is worn to be a symbol of either fertility or power. Elaborate headdresses are worn by many Pacific cultures and some, such as the inhabitants of Papua New Guinea, wear certain headdresses once they have killed an enemy. Tribesman may wear boar bones through their noses.

Island jewellery is still very much primal because of the lack of communication with outside cultures. Some areas of Borneo and Papua New Guinea are yet to be explored by Western nations. However, the island nations that were flooded with Western missionaries have had drastic changes made to their jewellery designs. Missionaries saw any type of tribal jewellery as a sign of the wearer’s devotion to paganism. Thus many tribal designs were lost forever in the mass conversion to Christianity.

A modern opalbracelet

Australia is now the number one supplier of opals in the world. Opals had already been mined in Europe and South America for many years prior, but in the late 19th century, the Australian opal market became predominant. Australian opals are only mined in a few select places around the country, making it one of the most profitable stones in the Pacific.

The New ZealandMāori traditionally had a strong culture of personal adornment, most famously the hei-tiki. Hei-tikis are traditionally carved by hand from bone, nephrite, or bowenite.

Nowadays a wide range of such traditionally inspired items such as bone carved pendants based on traditional fishhooks hei matau and other greenstone jewellery are popular with young New Zealanders of all backgrounds – for whom they relate to a generalized sense of New Zealand identity. These trends have contributed towards a worldwide interest in traditional Māori culture and arts.

Other than jewellery created through Māori influence, modern jewellery in New Zealand is multicultural and varied.

Modern

Contemporary jewellery design

Most modern commercial jewellery continues traditional forms and styles, but designers such as Georg Jensen have widened the concept of wearable art. The advent of new materials, such as plastics, Precious Metal Clay (PMC), and colouring techniques, has led to increased variety in styles. Other advances, such as the development of improved pearl harvesting by people such as Mikimoto Kōkichi and the development of improved quality artificial gemstones such as moissanite (a diamond simulant), has placed jewellery within the economic grasp of a much larger segment of the population.

The “jewellery as art” movement was spearheaded by artisans such as Robert Lee Morris and continued by designers such as Gill Forsbrook in the UK. Influence from other cultural forms is also evident. One example of this is bling-bling style jewellery, popularised by hip-hop and rap artists in the early 21st century, e.g. grills, a type of jewellery worn over the teeth.

The late 20th century saw the blending of European design with oriental techniques such as Mokume-gane. The following are innovations in the decades straddling the year 2000: “Mokume-gane, hydraulic die forming, anti-clastic raisingfold-forming, reactive metal anodising, shell forms, PMCphotoetching, and [use of] CAD/CAM.”

Also, 3D printing as a production technique gains more and more importance. With a great variety of services offering this production method, jewellery design becomes accessible to a growing number of creatives. An important advantage of using 3d printing are the relatively low costs for prototypes, small batch series or unique and personalized designs. Shapes that are hard or impossible to create by hand can often be realized by 3D printing. Popular materials to print include Polyamidesteel and wax (latter for further processing). Every printable material has its very own constraints that have to be considered while designing the piece of jewellery using 3D Modelling Software.

Artisan jewellery continues to grow as both a hobby and a profession. With more than 17 United States periodicals about beading alone, resources, accessibility, and a low initial cost of entry continues to expand production of hand-made adornments. Some fine examples of artisan jewellery can be seen at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The increase in numbers of students choosing to study jewellery design and production in Australia has grown in the past 20 years, and Australia now has a thriving contemporary jewellery community. Many of these jewellers have embraced modern materials and techniques, as well as incorporating traditional workmanship.

More expansive use of metal to adorn the wearer, where the piece is larger and more elaborate than what would normally be considered jewellery, has come to be referred to by designers and fashion writers as Metal Couture.

Masonic

Freemasons attach jewels to their detachable collars when in Lodge to signify a Brothers Office held with the Lodge. For example, the square represents the Master of the Lodge and the dove represents the Deacon.

Masonic collar jewels

Body modification

Padaung girl in Northern Thailand.

Jewellery used in body modification can be simple and plain or dramatic and extreme. The use of simple silver studs, rings, and earrings predominates. Common jewellery pieces such as, earrings are a form of body modification, as they are accommodated by creating a small hole in the ear.

Padaung women in Myanmar place large golden rings around their necks. From as early as five years old, girls are introduced to their first neck ring. Over the years, more rings are added. In addition to the twenty-plus pounds of rings on her neck, a woman will also wear just as many rings on her calves. At their extent, some necks modified like this can reach 10–15 in (25–38 cm) long. The practice has health impacts and has in recent years declined from cultural norm to tourist curiosity. Tribes related to the Padaung, as well as other cultures throughout the world, use jewellery to stretch their earlobes or enlarge ear piercings. In the Americas, labrets have been worn since before first contact by Innu and First Nations peoples of the northwest coast. Lip plates are worn by the African Mursi and Sara people, as well as some South American peoples.

In the late twentieth century, the influence of modern primitivism led to many of these practices being incorporated into western subcultures. Many of these practices rely on a combination of body modification and decorative objects, thus keeping the distinction between these two types of decoration blurred.

In many cultures, jewellery is used as a temporary body modifier; in some cases, with hooks or other objects being placed into the recipient’s skin. Although this procedure is often carried out by tribal or semi-tribal groups, often acting under a trance during religious ceremonies, this practice has seeped into western culture. Many extreme-jewellery shops now cater to people wanting large hooks or spikes set into their skin. Most often, these hooks are used in conjunction with pulleys to hoist the recipient into the air. This practice is said to give an erotic feeling to the person and some couples have even performed their marriage ceremony whilst being suspended by hooks.

Jewellery market

According to a 2007 KPMG study, the largest jewellery market is the United States with a market share of 30.8%, Japan, India, China, and the Middle East each with 8–9%, and Italy with 5%. The authors of the study predict a dramatic change in market shares by 2015, where the market share of the United States will have dropped to around 25%, and China and India will increase theirs to over 13%. The Middle East will remain more or less constant at 9%, whereas Europe’s and Japan’s market share will be halved and become less than 4% for Japan, and less than 3% for the biggest individual European countries, Italy and the UK.

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Facts About Silver Jewelry And Gold Jewelry Metals/

Facts About Silver Jewelry And Gold Jewelry Metals/

What You Should Know – Silver and Gold Jewelry

About Silver Accessories and Karat Gold Jewelry

The two precious metals most often used in jewelry are alloys of silver and gold.

There are many different alloys used in modern jewelry making.

The type of jewelry you can wear is not just determined by your wallet –
but also by the way your body reacts to and tolerates exposure to metals.

Sterling silver tarnishes, especially in hot, humid weather. It contains 7.5% copper
by weight, which reacts with common air pollutants, darkening the surface of the metal.

This can prompt skin irritation if your skin is sensitive to (usually) nickel or Fats about (sometimes) copper.

If you have noticed that you have an itch that persists with drying and reddening of your
skin where your jewelry touches it, you are probably sensitive to the alloy in the metal.

Gold and silver are known to be non – reactive metals; but that does not mean
that everyone can wear any type of gold or silver jewelry without any problem.

Understanding more about metals can help you to choose
jewelry that is more comfortable and healthy for you to wear!

Higher karat gold alloys tend to be better tolerated than lower karat qualities because there is
less of the reactive metal in the alloy. Many people wear 18K or 22K gold jewelry for this reason.

Sterling silver is .925 pure, or 92.5% silver by weight, a very high percentage.
Most people don’t have any problems wearing sterling silver jewelry.

Modern silver alloys don’t contain nickel, the usual irritant in jewelry metals. Lower percentage
silver alloys like vintage “European” silver can irritate your skin more easily than sterling silver jewelry
if you have copper sensitive skin, because old European silver is .800 fine, or 80% silver / 20% copper.

Following is a listing of metals commonly used in jewelry making and an explanation of their properties.


Gold Facts – Alloys, Karats, and more!

Pure 24K gold is hypoallergenic. It doesn’t cause irritation to the body.

However, the metals mixed with gold to make it harder or
enhance the color of gold can cause adverse skin reactions.

Gold is very malleable, meaning it can be hammered
into very thin sheets – thin enough for light to pass through.

Gold is also very ductile – it can be pulled
through drawplates into wire much thinner than hair.

Pure gold is very soft. It is very easy to work with hand tools.To make it harder
it is mixed with other metals, creating an alloy. Gold alloy purity is expressed in karats.

Gold alloys are available in many colors. The color of the alloy is determined
by the percentage and type(s) of metal “mixed” with the pure gold.

Rose gold contains more copper; until recently
white gold was traditionally made with nickel.

Now white gold is also made with palladium, a platinum
family metal; green gold is made with an alloy of fine silver.
As an example, most green gold is 18 karat; 75% gold, 25% silver.

There are MANY other colors made with alloy combinations.

The percentage of gold used is directly related to the karat content of the alloy.

It does not matter what type of metal is “mixed” with the gold, just how much.

The chart (below) shows how much gold is in your jewelry.


1k Gold = 4.17% Gold and 95.83% alloy

2k Gold = 8.33% Gold and 91.67% alloy

3k Gold = 12.5% Gold and 87.5% alloy

4k Gold = 16.67% Gold and 83.33% alloy

5k Gold = 20.83% Gold and 79.17% alloy

6k Gold = 25% Gold and 75% alloy

7k Gold = 29.17% Gold and 70.83% alloy

8k Gold = 33.3% Gold and 66.67% alloy

9k Gold = 37.5% Gold and 62.5% alloy

10k Gold = 41.67% Gold and 58.33% alloy

11k Gold = 45.83% Gold and 54.17% alloy

12k Gold = 50% Gold and 50% alloy

13k Gold = 54.17% Gold and 45.83% alloy

14k Gold = 58.33% Gold and 41.67% alloy

15k Gold = 62.5% Gold and 37.5% alloy

16k Gold = 66.67% Gold and 33.33% alloy

17k Gold = 70.83% Gold and 29.17% alloy

18k Gold = 75% Gold and 25% alloy

19k Gold = 79.1% Gold and 20.83% alloy

20k Gold = 83.33% Gold and 16.67% alloy

21k Gold = 87.5% Gold and 12.5% alloy

22k Gold = 91.67% Gold and 8.33% alloy

23k Gold = 95.83% Gold and 4.17% alloy

24k Gold = 100% Gold and 0% alloy


In this chart, “alloy” means the other metal. It can be
silver, copper, zinc, nickel, iron or almost any other metal.

For instance, 10 karat yellow gold is 41.67% pure gold and 58.33% “other metals”,
mostly copper, maybe some silver and most likely some nickel or zinc to add hardness.

In the United States gold must be at least 9K to be sold as karat gold.

Lower karat gold alloys have a  higher percentage of the other metals added to them.

They tend to react to the pollutants and other
impurities in the air faster than higher karat gold alloys.

This means that the high percentage of copper or other metal in the
lower karat alloy will tarnish (or oxidize), just like sterling silver items do.

This can occur especially in hot weather when the metals react to salt in perspiration.

If this happens to your sterling silver or lower karat gold jewelry, you may want to take it off
and wash the piece in hot water with a detergent like Dawn, Joy or whatever you prefer.

If your jewelry is really dirty, try scrubbing it carefully with a soft toothbrush.
Polish with a jewelry polishing cloth, if you have one. Rinse and dry before wearing.

If you have a problem with sterling silver, medium to
low karat gold will probably give you difficulties as well.

Medium to low karat yellow gold has a much higher percentage of copper in it than sterling silver.

Nickel allergies are the most common. Many people have problems wearing white gold –
the problem isn’t the gold. It’s actually nickel – the alloy – that causes skin reactions!

The new palladium white gold alloys are a bit more expensive, but are hypoallergenic.


Silver Jewelry Metal Facts

Sterling silver is generally used for jewelry, and that is what most people think of when they see silver.

Silver also comes in various quality grades, measured by 1/1000 parts per gram.

There are impurities that naturally occur in silver at the molecular level. These impurities
consist of other metals – usually copper, but traces of other metals can also be found.

These trace impurities are insignificant, and would be
too costly to remove – so .999 silver is considered pure.

The table (below) shows the types of silver alloys generally used in jewelry making.

Silver Alloys

.999 
fine silver

Contains .001 trace metals.

.9584
Britannia

95.84% silver + 4.16% copper.

.925
sterling

92.5% silver + 7.5% copper.

.900
coin

90% silver + 10% copper.

.830
European

83% silver + 17% copper.

.800
European

80% silver + 20% copper.

All the alloys shown are legally referred to as “silver”.

The only legal requirement is that they are quality stamped or marked for sale to the public.

Silver Facts

As with gold, silver in its fine state is a non – reactive metal – allergies are possible but VERY rare.

People who have problems wearing silver jewelry are usually
allergic to the copper in the alloyed metal, not the silver.

During the European Industrial Revolution, people found that their .800 silver was tarnishing
much faster than before – a reaction to the new pollutants in the air – from burning coal in the factories!

Fine, or pure, silver with no copper content does not tarnish easily. Think about the fine silver
coins brought up from wrecked ships – everything from the Atocha to sunken pirate ships.

They come up out of the ocean after hundreds of years bright and shiny as new.

Fine silver can get dirty, of course, but will not tarnish like sterling silver.

There is a new alloy called Argentium® Silver. It is sterling, but contains germanium in place of copper.

Argentium® doesn’t develop firescale as easily during soldering and doesn’t tarnish the way
traditional sterling silver does because the germanium doesn’t react as the copper does.


Plated and Filled

There are different grades and methods of bonding precious metals to
a less expensive base metal, as indicated in the chart below.

Finished, Washed, Colored

These terms refer to the thinnest gold, silver, platinum or rhodium coatings. 
There is no standard thickness.

Plated, Electroplated

These metals have a required minimum standard thickness – usually .15 – .25 mils

Gold, Platinum or Silver Filled metals

A layer of karat gold, platinum or silver is mechanically
bonded to a base metal, usually brass or steel.

Filled metals usually have a thickness over 100 times that of plated metals.

Gold filled may be  marked with the gold percentage by weight and the karat value.

If a piece of jewelry is marked 1/20 14K GF – 5% of the total weight is 14K gold.
However, this is not required by law. Most times the quality is stated on a hang tag.

There is no approved marking system in the US for filled metals.

 Vermeil Gold plated over silver

Silver is the “base” metal

Many jewelry items are made of either plated or filled metals.

This is done to keep the cost of these items as low as possible.

The whole piece can be plated or filled metal, as with a chain. In many cases, the clasp and
metal parts of an otherwise top quality gemstone bead necklace or bracelet can be plated or filled.

If it is taken care of and worn properly, such as over a sweater, a necklace with plated parts
can last for a very reasonable length of time, even years – but eventually the plated
metal parts will oxidize or the plating will wear through to the base metal.

Filled metals are much higher quality and a much longer useful lifespan.

They have one or more layers of precious metal bonded to a base with heat and pressure.

Filled materials are at least 1/20 precious metal by weight.

They are much longer lasting than ordinary plated objects.

Filled metal objects are not usually marked with a quality stamp, such as 12k GF or 14k GF.

For information on the care and cleaning of jewelry, please visit this article:Jewelry Care

Article written by Robert Edwards ©2015.
Robert is a jeweler and metalsmith, and is webmaster of http://www.jewelry24seven.com.

This article may be linked and used as content on blogs and websites conditionally … ALL content –
links, author, copyright – must not be changed in ANY way – it must appear exactly as the article appears above.

 

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